New York State Building & Construction Trades Council & Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY Advocate for Clean Energy Investment to Address Power Reliability Gaps and Create Jobs
New York, New York – Ahead of the New York State Public Service Commission’s “Technical Conference under Case 15-E-0302: Implement a Large-Scale Renewable Program and Clean Energy Standard,” the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council, representing 220,000 highly skilled construction trade union workers throughout New York, along with the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY, jointly thank the New York State Public Service Commission for its consideration of this important matter and urge action to ensure New York’s energy system is clean and reliable.
New York has an urgent need for a comprehensive clean energy strategy to address power reliability gaps, create union careers, and facilitate workforce development initiatives that will equip construction tradesmen and tradeswomen to successfully transition to clean energy projects.
In 2003, New York had a generating capacity of 40,647 megawatts (MW). [i] In 2023, New York's generating capacity has shrunk by 10% to 36,894 MW, signaling a critical need for immediate action. [ii] The decline in energy capacity has led to increased electricity prices and job losses, emphasizing the need for a robust and reliable energy system.
The labor groups note that New York’s grid operator, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), estimates that the state will need to triple its power generating capacity – from roughly 37.5 gigawatts (GW) to 124 GW – by 2040 to meet its clean energy goals. That will require a massive build-out of zero-emission generating resources well beyond current plans for electric generation from wind, solar and hydro. They are calling for a heightened commitment to zero-emission resources that are more reliable and not dependent on weather patterns, including hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and small modular nuclear reactors.
The labor groups believe that existing natural gas-fired power plants should be allowed to transition and upgrade their facilities as the clean energy transition takes place.
"Our skilled tradespeople are the backbone of New York's construction industry. Building a cleaner and more reliable energy system is not just an environmental imperative; it's an opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of well-paying, family sustaining middle-class careers for professionals in the construction trades all across the Empire State. We need to get serious about zero emission resources to create thousands of good jobs, build a sustainable environment, and make a clean energy future," said Gary LaBarbera, president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council.
"The time for urgent action is now. The NYISO analysis highlights the critical need to expedite the siting and construction of new zero greenhouse gas power generation facilities and retrofit existing ones promptly. Our message to policymakers is clear: treat the power emergency as an emergency. Let's work together to ensure a swift and effective transition to a cleaner, more reliable energy system," said John J. Murphy, International Representative of the United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry.
"Reliability is the cornerstone of a functioning society. Until you start changing the electric generation mix, the more electric appliances consumers buy, existing plants will become more stressed to meet growing demand. We are urging policymakers to prioritize reliability and take a 'do no harm’ approach. By building emission free generation facilities and maintaining access to reliable power, we safeguard the health and safety of millions of New Yorkers. Let's act now to ensure a dependable energy future for our state," Tom Gesualdi, President of the 150,000 member Teamsters Joint Council 16.
"Recent events, such as winter storm Elliott, have exposed vulnerabilities in New York's energy systems. For too long we have been shutting down power plants, even zero emission facilities like Indian Point, without decarbonized electricity available to replace lost jobs and energy. We are calling for immediate attention to these vulnerabilities and emphasizes the need for a comprehensive clean energy transition. Let's not wait for the next crisis—act urgently to make New York power full again," said Jim Shillito, Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2.
"With the arrival of Micron Technologies in Central New York and its expected creation of 50,000 jobs, it is critical that our state and region have the current and future clean energy capacity to meet the needs of the economic development Governor Hochul has brought to this region of our state. Clean power generating facilities have been a mainstay for job creation, economic growth, and a just transition for workers. Let's make New York powerful again by investing in our workforce and building a clean energy future," said Central New York Building & Construction Trades Council President and New York State Pipe Trades President Greg Lancette.
"As we face a decreasing power reserve margin and warnings of a potential shortage, the urgency to address power reliability gaps cannot be overstated. New York requires a realistic roadmap to enhance reliability through the adoption of diverse and innovative energy sources. Let's power on New York with a resilient and robust energy grid," Peter Myers President of the New York State Iron Workers District Council.
Ahead of the New York State Public Service Commission’s technical conference on zero emission electric generation sources, these labor organizations are advocating for New York to address power reliability gaps, create jobs, and achieve a smooth transition to a decarbonized energy system with the following action steps:
· Expediting the siting and construction of at least 124 GW of new in-state zero-emission generating facilities to support a new electrified world.
· Reversing the loss of 3,753 MWs of in-state electricity supply, most of which were from decarbonized sources, such as nuclear power, from New York’s energy mix.
· Acknowledging that with less in-state electricity supply, between January 2020 and January 2023, electricity prices for industrial, commercial, and residential ratepayers have increased 39%, 38%, and 34% respectively – not factoring in inflation, and increasing access to in-state zero emissions generation facilities can reduce electricity prices for ratepayers.
· New York should recognize an all-of-the-above approach to zero emission energy sources.
The New York State Building & Construction Trades Council and Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY remains committed to playing an active role in building a reliable, 24/7 cleaner energy grid that ensures a just transition for workers and a sustainable future for all New Yorkers.
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About the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council: The New York State Building & Construction Trades Council represents 220,000 members throughout New York, advocating for the rights and interests of skilled tradespeople in the building and construction industry.
About the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition – NY: The Clean Energy Jobs Coalition – NY works to ensure that the working people of New York State, from Buffalo to Montauk Point, have the power and energy to build schools, hospitals, houses of worship, shopping plazas, offices, and homes to keep our economy vibrant and safe. In partnership with management, the Empire State’s highly skilled and trained union labor force is the backbone of New York State, its economy, and the safest and most productive in the nation.
[i] New York Independent System Operator, “Power alert: New York’s Energy Crossroads,” Table 3, page 16, March 2001
[ii] New York Independent System Operator, “Power Trends 2023 – By the Numbers,” June 2023.